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Madison school board arrogance?

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Madison school board arrogance?

Postby jjoyce » Wed Feb 06, 2013 11:57 am

So one of the candidates for superintendent has dropped out because it has been revealed that he's got some unethical baggage.

The remaining candidate has some baggage as well (see the link above). This despite the school board having engaged a search firm to recruit and vet candidates to the tune of $31,000.

How's that working out so far? Try getting a school board member to address the situation it currently finds itself in.

One of them, Ed Hughes, attempted to deflect attention.

"We want now for the attention to be on Dr. Cheatham and her qualifications and what she can bring to our district," school board member Ed Hughes said after the meeting.


Who is this "we"? Because I don't think I'm alone when I say that I want to place a little more attention on how this search firm did its work and what kind of oversight it got from the school board.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby minicat » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:07 pm

I have to admit, it was very discouraging yesterday to learn that the best candidates they could come up with had these issues. I find that somewhat hard to believe, and really question both the search firm's methods and how the Board evaluated the candidates that were presented.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby gargantua » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:12 pm

When somebody screws up, is embarrassed about the screwup, and tries to deflect questions about whether or not there was a screwup and who is responsible, I wouldn't call it arrogance. I'd call it butt-covering. It seldom works. Usually defensiveness give rise to even more questions. I'd certainly love to know how a search firm could miss this stuff, unless of course they just cashed the check and did no due diligence whatsoever.

Like not even a google search....
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby snoqueen » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:13 pm

Perhaps school funding problems in Wisconsin have become so acute, and keeping the best teachers so difficult, that good candidates would prefer to apply nearly anywhere else.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby minicat » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:25 pm

snoqueen wrote:Perhaps school funding problems in Wisconsin have become so acute, and keeping the best teachers so difficult, that good candidates would prefer to apply nearly anywhere else.


That's certainly a factor to consider. However, many education positions have also been cut across the country the past several years, so one would think there would be a sizeable pool of folks out there who haven't necessarily been able to find employment for a while.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby jjoyce » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:33 pm

gargantua wrote:When somebody screws up, is embarrassed about the screwup, and tries to deflect questions about whether or not there was a screwup and who is responsible, I wouldn't call it arrogance.


But isn't it arrogant to insist that we not review the process but, instead, celebrate the positives of the remaining candidate?

Far too many "electeds" believe they're also thought leaders. They are not.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby bleurose » Wed Feb 06, 2013 4:38 pm

What exactly is the problem with declaring a failed search and as part of that, the head-hunting firm does not get paid since they did not come up with viable candidates?

I really really get a bad feeling when a "lone candidate" is the only one left standing (or maybe, teetering, would be more accurate here) for important positions such as this one. No one is well-served by this kind of situation.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Endo Rockstar » Wed Feb 06, 2013 5:21 pm

jjoyce wrote:
gargantua wrote:When somebody screws up, is embarrassed about the screwup, and tries to deflect questions about whether or not there was a screwup and who is responsible, I wouldn't call it arrogance.


But isn't it arrogant to insist that we not review the process but, instead, celebrate the positives of the remaining candidate?

Far too many "electeds" believe they're also thought leaders. They are not.


Agreed. This is bad juju, man. Out of a "nationwide" search completed by an Iowa-based headhunter we get a choice of the current superintendent of Springfield and the Chief of Instruction of Chicago Schools? Oh wait, the super from Springfield is kind of a crook but Springfield Schools can’t fire him without a hefty contract buyout?

I can just imagine that phone call to Springfield Public Schools:

“Hi! This is Rich from “Super-Rad Superintendents,” where we specialize in finding Superintendents! Is this the Springfield Public School District?”

“Yes.”

“Great! So we hear that you’d like to unload your current superintendent for a newer model with less mob debts. Well I’ve got good news, I have a motivated buyer on the line from Madison, Wisconsin, for a small fee we’d be more than willing to handle all the details of polishing this turd and convincing them to buy in! Sound good?”

“Yes.”

“Great! So we’ve go a deal! We’ll send over all the necessary paperwork, and be sure not to answer any specific questions about the super when Madison comes a calling about references. Have great day!”


Maybe we should keep taking resumes.

-Dan Motor
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby talagaster » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:21 pm

Dan Motor, you have earned a slow clap for that excellent use of the quote feature.

I agree that both of these candidates are troublesome for being the two finalists. Look at how much the local press and Twitter folks find out about Walter Milton Jr in the space of three days. That means either A) the headhunting firm didn't do a good job or B) the school board agreed to it anyway.

I'd also be really hesitant to hire any high-level official from Chicago after the Windy City's recent labor conflicts. As others have said, she may have been thrown under the bus but the experience does taint her. There is going to be some sort of dispute between the administration in Doyle and MTI in the next few years as MTI's legal protections wither away. The Superintendent will play a large role in determining how big that dispute will be. We need someone who will be a diplomat between the school board, teachers and parents in this time of transition for the district. I'm not convinced Dr. Cheatham has proven she can resolve conflicts.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Madsci » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:54 pm

Whoa, what has happened to the Madison School Board search for a new super? I think is has been a downward spiral since the days when they picked The Dragon Lady. My guess is the pickings are slim.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby christopher_robin » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:59 am

The reason this is so bad:

Many here fought long and hard in The Battle of Wisconsin to support, among other things, adequate funding for public schools. That's because we believe in quality public schools as a cornerstone of a healthy community.

And we should. It's pretty bad out there. Teachers regularly -- on a weekly basis -- ask parents for the most basic supplies, like pencils (I am not making this up). Schools go without the most fundamental materials if third parties (often teachers) don't kick in, like ruled paper with the dotted line in the middle for learning to write letters (again, I am not making this up; as of December 2012 this extremely cheap and critical item was not to be found in at least one elementary school classroom due to "underfunding.")

So when the district pays $31,000 to an out-of-state firm that is patently unable to perform their task at the most basic level, it's impossible to deny that there is serious mismanagement of funding. You can buy a lot of pencils and ruled paper for $31,000, but these candidates are clearly unacceptable -- there IS no candidate.

When we fight hard for schools and they then abuse our trust in this way, it destroys all the arguments we make in town halls and everywhere else about the importance of protecting funding for the public school system. At the teacher level, they are literally begging parents for the most basic supplies to teach our kids. At the administrative level, profligate waste. The administrators are directly harming the teachers and our children though gross incompetence.

Solutions:
1) Admit that you were wrong.
2) Don't pay these sketchy recruiters. Unless the contract is written on Spongebob Squarepants paper in crayon, there should be some terms requiring a minimum number of qualified candidates.
3) Fix the problem and find a replacement for Nerad.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Ed Hughes » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:29 am

Thanks for the feedback. Here’s the thing: high-level hiring – or any hiring – isn’t done in the public square. You can’t get people to apply unless you can promise them confidentiality, at least up to the point where they are announced as finalists. So while it might be helpful to us personally if we could explain how it all went down, we can’t do that. Second, ultimately the process should be judged primarily by the results. So try to come and hear Jennifer Cheatham speak today. I can tell you that Board members have been feeling more positive about her day by day as the people we’ve called have consistently raved about her. The people we’re calling are ones who have worked directly with Dr. Cheatham whom we’ve found on our own. So, criticize us School Board members all you want (yes, yes, as if you need my permission to do so), but please leave yourself open to the possibility that we may end up with a terrific superintendent.

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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby Endo Rockstar » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:51 am

Ed Hughes wrote: Second, ultimately the process should be judged primarily by the results.


I would agree but how shallow was the pool of applicants that 50% of the "results" were crooked as f*ck and had to bow out?

-Dan Motor
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby rabble » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:58 am

Endo Rockstar wrote:
Ed Hughes wrote: Second, ultimately the process should be judged primarily by the results.


I would agree but how shallow was the pool of applicants that 50% of the "results" were crooked as f*ck and had to bow out?

-Dan Motor

I'm afraid I don't agree with that. Just because a flawed process works once doesn't mean it ought to be given a pass. And we still don't know if it worked.
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Re: Madison school board arrogance?

Postby other i » Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:03 am

I hear comment from other school board members about us not scaring off Ms. Cheatham. In fact, I think a smart applicant would position herself to NOT have this issue of the hiring process tag along through the entirety of her tenure and would welcome the addition of an additional candidate or two into the pool at this point.

AND regarding the "judging of the results", you know that that will occur beyond tonight's forum and well into that tenure, right? That's how we do it in Madison and I'm glad we do.
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